Big Ten, Rutgers football to start up play next month

NCAA Football: Buffalo at Penn State
(Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports)

There will be football in Piscataway this year, after all.

The Big Ten Conference, which features Rutgers University, announced on Wednesday that it will, in fact, play football this season with a start date of Oct. 23-24.

This comes after the conference originally canceled their season back in August amid COVID-19 concerns, citing the health and safety of their players and staff as the reason for such a decision.

Things have obviously changed since then to warrant such a turnaround, but protocols in place seem to be paving the way for the major conference to return to action this year.

“Everyone associated with the Big Ten should be very proud of the groundbreaking steps that are now being taken to better protect the health and safety of the student-athletes and surrounding communities,” Dr. Jim Borchers, head team physician at Ohio State and the co-chair of the Return to Competition Task Force medical subcommittee, said.

“The data we are going to collect from testing and the cardiac registry will provide major contributions for all 14 Big Ten institutions as they study COVID-19 and attempt to mitigate the spread of the disease among wider communities.”

Moving forward, student-athletes, coaches, trainers, and other staff members will be required to undergo a daily antigen test, which must be recorded before each practice or game. Those who test positive for COVID-19 would require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result of their initial point of contact test.

Should the results remain positive, student-athletes will be sidelined for at least 21 days following their diagnosis. In the meantime, they’ll have to undergo cardiac testing and receive clearance from a cardiologist to start working their way back to the field.

“Our focus with the Task Force over the last six weeks was to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes. Our goal has always been to return to competition so all student-athletes can realize their dream of competing in the sports they love,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said. “We are incredibly grateful for the collaborative work that our Return to Competition Task Force have accomplished to ensure the health, safety, and wellness of student-athletes, coaches, and administrators.”

Daily testing will begin on Sept. 30.